PESONEN, PENGUINS POUND BEARS
WILKES-BARRE, PA –It seems like a year ago that the Hershey Bears handed the Penguins an 8-4 drubbing on opening night.
In actuality, it was exactly half a season back that the Bears ventured up to Wilkes-Barre and handed the club its worst defeat of the campaign.
The Pens got a little bit of payback on Sunday evening, reeling off five straight goals to hammer Hershey, 6-2, at the Wachovia Arena at Casey Plaza.
The win gave the Penguins five of a possible six points on the weekend, and upped the team’s record to 24-13-1-2 on the season. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton now trails the league-leading Bears (28-11-0-1) by six points in the East Division standings, and have beaten the team’s southern neighbors three straight times now.
“The first period was clearly two good teams,” said head coach Dan Bylsma, who saw his club fall behind by a 2-1 score after the first 20 minutes. “We got to our game, we played our game, we started grinding them down.”
The contest turned late in the second period. The Penguins were awarded a two man advantage when Bryan Helmer was called for holding with a minute and a half remaining, then the Bears were whistled for too many men on the ice with 11 ticks left in the frame.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton pushed the troops forward, crashing the net in the final seconds and capitalizing when Janne Pesonen put home his 13th of the year. Hershey protested, saying that the horn had sounded before the puck crossed the line, but referee Nygel Pelletier allowed the goal to stand, giving the Pens a two-goal lead headed to the third.
The home club used the remaining power play time to put the game out of reach, as Danny Richmond fired a shot off of Tyler Sloan’s skate that deflected into the cage, making the score 5-2 just 50 seconds into the period.
If that wasn’t enough of a pad, Jean-Michel Daoust pounced on a Luca Caputi set up from behind the net slightly over a minute later to finish off the scoring.
Lost in the third period excitement was a two goal game by Nick Johnson. The rookie forward tied the game early in the second period with a twisting turn around shot, then put the Pens in front by taking a Pesonen cross ice feed and burying it behind Simeon Varlamov at 17:04 of the second.